Man behind blue turf, Boise State athletic growth, Gene Bleymaier terminated as ADNo one in Boise State history has left a stamp on Bronco athletics like Gene Bleymaier. From his concepts of a blue turf football field, to hosting an annual college football bowl game and the overall growth of the athletic department, Bleymaier’s innovative ways have been instrumental to Boise State’s growth and how it is today perceived nationally. On Wednesday evening, Bleymaier met with members of the local media one-byone. Wearing a white short-sleeved dress shirt and blue- and-orange-stripped tie, he sat behind a large table in his office and tried to best answer why — after nearly three decades — he was no longer Boise State’s athletic director. “I was surprised and disappointed, very disappointed,” Bleymaier said. “I didn’t expect this,” he said. Bleymaier was told of his dismissal Thursday afternoon in a face-to-face meeting with Boise State president Bob Kustra. Bleymaier said it was Kustra’s decision to hold the announcement nearly a week. Earlier Wednesday evening, the Boise State Communications department released a press release with the announcement that Kustra had decided to cut ties with the one man who had directed the school’s athletic department through its transition to what is now FBS in 1996, conference changes from the Big Sky to the Big West to the WAC and, now, to the Mountain West, as well as multiple NCAA tournament appearances in several sports and two BCS football bowl game victories. “I did not come to this decision lightly,” Kustra said in the press release. “After a careful management review and discussions about the future of the program, I determined that new leadership will be needed as we commit ourselves to the highest level of attention and enforcement of NCAA standards, and also continue to move Boise State athletics to the next level of success.” Bleymaier said the decision for his removal was not a result of the recent NCAA infractions, but based on the confidence that Kustra needs to have in the university’s compliance operation during the NCAA probationary period, and Kustra thought it could be best accomplished with a new athletic director. “As I understand it, it is a decision made solely by president Kustra based on his desires looking forward,” Bleymaier said. Boise State met with NCAA investigators in June about 22 infractions, including one major violation by the women’s tennis team, and the label of lack of institutional control. Bleymaier said he’s confident that the NCAA is going to agree that Boise State took the right steps with self-imposed sanctions. “That’s our expectation, we’re waiting to hear that, but we feel very confident that the sanctions that we imposed were adequate, were sufficient and were dealt specifically with the issues at hand,” he said. “So, I’m confident that the NCAA is going to agree with the sanctions that we’ve levied, but that remains to be seen.” To account for violations, women’s tennis coach Mark Tichenor and an assistant were removed in November. Men’s tennis lost practice time. Women’s tennis, track and field and football lost scholarships. For impermissible housing, transportation and meals, the football team was docked three combined scholarships over the next two seasons and the team will miss three practices this month and three more before next year’s opener against Michigan State. An interim athletic director will be appointed and a national search will be conducted to find Bleymaier’s replacement. Bleymaier said the person who eventually takes over will walk into good conditions. “We’re at the top of our game right now,” he said. “Last year we won six (conference) championships and came in second in a couple other sports. We’re as strong academically and athletically and compliancewise going forward as we’ve ever been.” Bleymaier, 57, is a Borah High graduate and former football player at UCLA. He graduated in 1975 and later was an assistant athletic director at UCLA. He was hired at Boise State in 1981 and promoted to athletic director in 1982. Since, Bleymaier has guided Boise State athletics to unthinkable heights. In 1986, his vision for blue turf at Broncos Stadium became a reality and continues to remain the signature landmark of the institution. He led the way for the development of the Humanitarian Bowl, now called the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, in 1997. He has been key to the scheduling of BCS opponents for the Broncos football team, the hiring of successful coaches and overseeing an athletic department that has met NCAA academic standards through the years. “In my 10 years at Boise State, Gene has been a tremendous supporter of not only our football program, but all the Bronco athletic teams and the entire university,” Boise State football coach Chris Petersen said. “I want to thank Gene for giving me an opportunity to become a head collegiate football coach.” Boise State men’s basketball coach Leon Rice said: “I will always be grateful for the opportunity Gene has given me to coach the Broncos. He did some amazing things here with athletics at Boise State.” Bleymaier said he hasn’t had time to think of what’s next for his career, but did not rule out working in athletics down the road. He said he did have opportunities over the years, but never seriously looked for other jobs. “This is where we want to live and this is where I wanted to work and this has been a labor of love to be a part of this program and it’s been a privilege to be a part of this program,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute here. I think the things that jump out as most significant to me right now are the relationships, the friendships. ... This is our home and we’ve been very fortunate. The people in this community that have supported Boise State are phenomenal and it has made it very enjoyable and very rewarding. “We’ll be Broncos for life.”
My God, what a idiotic move. Firing a winner? Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Gene was cleaning up the program. He was instigating sanctions to appease the NCAA. Forgodsake, our infractions were tiny compared to other schools. I'm embarrassed for Mr. Bleymaier...sorry Gene.